Launching a business has proven to be no easy feat for just about anyone, as there are lots of things to consider when coming up with your own brand, such as expenses, marketing, and more. But as the pandemic suddenly (and mostly negatively) impacted the world, it also introduced people to a wave of new interests, especially during the very beginning of quarantine. It was during this time back in 2020 that Jessica Tse finally launched her own jewelry brand, Notte.
Known for its “dreamy mood-boosting jewels,” described by Tse herself, the accessories label has garnered cult-favorite status in just two short years. With the rise in kitschy jewelry pieces and all things beaded, the designer initially birthed the very beginnings of her brand through late nights of manifestations and designs that she doodled in her free time; hence the word notte, which means “night” in Italian.
Soon enough, Notte Jewelry was started in Italy during her time when she worked as a trend director in Florence. The brand’s aesthetic is inspired by childhood nostalgia with a dash of ‘90s and Y2K influences, plus Tse’s experiences living between both Italy and New York City. “Italy is insanely beautiful during the warmer months, and the colorful coastline and beautiful seasides were big inspirations in the brand's DNA. Then, of course, there’s a fun, quirky NYC twist to it,” she tells NYLON over email.
Many of the most pivotal moments in our lives first stem from uncertain times. Making a career change is already nerve-wracking for most, and especially in the pandemic, Tse had to learn to do so quickly as she had to adjust her mindset to that of a business owner slash designer. “[When I was] a trend director, I had a very structured, almost analytical way of looking at the fashion, and that all changed when I started Notte,” she says. “Instead of analyzing designs and trends, I had to readjust my perspective and pivot myself as a designer, it’s quite the opposite of what I did for years in trend forecasting.”
Well before entering her previous career, she mentions that coming into the fashion space has always felt natural for her. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Tse grew up doodling and drawing a range of clothing and accessories, and perhaps this was a sign that she’s always been destined to design. On top of her mom serving as her biggest fashion inspiration throughout her childhood, designers such as Anna Sui, Phoebe Philo, and Miuccia Prada have also influenced her personal style and work over the years. “I’ve always loved clothes. Growing up, I loved experimenting with different trends,” recalls Tse. “The older I get, the less I care about trends, and I think clothing should evolve with us and we should wear whatever makes us happy.”
Notte is the epitome of “happy,” with smiley-face beads, floral resin, and freshwater pearls being just some of Tse’s go-to jewelry materials. And it seems that her coveted designs have become a celebrity favorite, including Evan Mock and Olivia Rodrigo, Bella Hadid, Madison Beer, and most recently, snowboarding champ Chloe Kim. “My love for freshwater pearls came from my many seaside trips in Italy. They’re timeless and always remind me of my best summer memories,” Tse says about her design process. “I also love contrasting that elegance with quirky fun designs, mixing in other materials like resin or glass to give the pieces unique silhouettes.”
Some of Tse’s favorite styles include Mini Super Bloom Pearl necklaces and Adjustable rings, as well as her newest Super Swirl rings. “As for my personal favorite, I have to say the Heart to Heart necklace in Malachite and Mother of Pearl. I wear them almost every day!”
It goes without saying that Tse’s upbringing influenced her work. “My family and I are originally from Hong Kong, so spending my pre-teen years there has definitely shaped my obsession for happy, colorful fun accessories and you can see hints of these nostalgic elements in a lot of my designs,” she shares. But with the unfortunate rise in AAPI hate crimes and discrimination in the past couple of years alone, the designer shares how consumers can directly support the community, as Tse has also opted in donating a portion of Notte’s proceeds to Heart of Dinner. “There are so many great AAPI-owned brands in the market right now, definitely try integrating them into your daily lives, whether it’s clothing, skincare, or cleaning product. I think that’s the best way to continually support.”
Since her recently-launched Flower Glow collection on top of a recent collaboration with another AAPI-owned label Find Me Now, Tse is keeping busy, and with a new season of warm weather and sun just around the corner, there are a few releases from Notte to add to your wardrobe. “We’re expanding our rings collection and we have a few new rings dropping this summer, so we’re super excited about that,” she says. “There are also a few really fun collaborations in the works, so definitely keep an eye out for it!”